The CFDA Announces New Initiatives to Promote Equality in the Fashion Industry

Amidst ongoing global protests and unrest following the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis and a blossoming new civil rights movement, the Council of Fashion Designer of America (CFDA) announced Thursday morning that it will take new steps to help promote diversity and create systemic change to a more equal fashion industry.

Chief among the initiatives is an in-house employment program that will be tasked with finding and placing black creatives throughout all sectors of the fashion industry, pairing individuals with companies that are looking to hire.

Its second initiative is a mentorship program that will focusing on placing black students and recent graduates in internships with established fashion companies.

Both initiatives address a lack of black leadership throughout the industry, which has gained another wave of criticism recently.

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kerby jean-raymond, steven kolb, tom ford, cfda, black lives matter, cfda equality initiative
From left: Tom Ford, Kerby Jean-Raymond and Steven Kolb. Jean-Raymond was one of four minority designers added to the CFDA’s board of directors in 2019.
CREDIT: Rex/Shutterstock

The CFDA also announced that it will implement a diversity and inclusion training program, which will be made available to all of its members. It is unclear if an internal diversity and inclusion program already existed within the organization prior to this announcement.

The council said that it will be making immediate contributions and begin fundraising for a number of organizations like the NAACP and Campaign Zero. The announcement did not disclose any specific figures in terms of donations.

The last bullet point came in the form of a directive to all of its members to examine each brand’s own corporate structure to make sure it is racially balanced and for the retail sector to ensure its merchandise is a diverse assortment that represents black talent within the industry. The suggestion falls in line with the newly created 15% pledge from designer and CFDA member Aurora James, an initiative that urges retailers (from all sectors including fashion) to devote 15 percent of their shelf space to black-owned brands.

The CFDA’s announcement of these new steps comes nearly a year after it added four minority designers to its board of directors: Kerby Jean-Raymond, Maria Cornejo, Virgil Abloh and Carly Cushnie.

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